Scientists discover a soil fungus that neutralizes skunk odor

The smelly compounds that skunks squirt when threatened are called thiols and are notorious hard to eliminate from humans and dogs who get spray with them. Tomato juice merely temporarily overpowers the stench, and commercial products are mostly junk or dangerous. But researchers recently discovered a fungal compound in Alaskan soil that actually neutralizes thiols, reports Chemical and Engineering News:

The researchers reacted pericosine A with different skunk thiols and found that it converted them into odorless compounds, reducing the thiol levels to a point at which they were undetectable by the human nose.


There’s nothing like skunk odor, [Robert H. Cichewicz, a natural products chemist at the University of Oklahoma] says, to expose the shortcomings of a lab’s hood system. And once he made the mistake of wafting his hand over a sample of pure anal gland secretions. It was, he says, “the nasal equivalent of staring at the sun.”

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Bic perfume in packaging inspired by their lighters

In 1989, Bic, makers of pens, shaving razors, and, of course, lighters, launched Parfum Bic. I really like the packaging inspired by cigarette lighters! Maybe the original idea was that the scent would cover up the stale funk of cigarette smoke. Weird Universe found this bit from a Detroit Free Press article at the time:

Made entirely in France and packaged in little portable spritzers that look more than a bit like Bic lighters, Parfum Bic will retail for just $5 a quarter-ounce, one-tenth the price of a typical French perfume. Parfum Bic already is selling briskly in Europe, the company reports. Already, cocooned in decidedly downscale blister packs, the product is hitting the speed racks of American supermarkets, drug and variety stores. With this product, Bic hopes to create a whole new low-price perfume category by advancing the notion of perfume as a product that can be bought and used spontaneously.

"Bic Perfume" (Weird Universe)

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Public library's card catalog and books linked by scent

In 1974, Upper Arlington, Ohio public library launched a program to link their card catalog and shelved books by odor. The project was called: "Stick Your Nose in the Card Catalog." From Weird Universe:

The idea was that the card in the catalog would have a scent, and then the book on the shelf would have a matching scent. So you could find your books by smell. There were about 60 scents in total, including apple, chocolate, garlic, lemon, roses, root beer, leather, pizza, orange, strawberry, candles, pine, cheddar cheese, clover, and smoke.

The library says that they "aren't sure what exactly happened to the scented catalog, but we guess that the cards eventually lost their scent over time, but remained part of the catalog until it was decommissioned" for a digital system in 1989. Read the rest